PGA Tour’s Peter Malnati Rethinks After Terming Lexi Thompson’s Shriners Open Invitation a ‘Gimmick’

In his inaugural year on the PGA Tour policy board, Peter Malnati has emerged as a vocal advocate for the everyday player, shedding light on the average player’s sentiments towards the PGA Tour’s partnership with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Malnati expressed that trust in the Tour was shaken following the agreement’s announcement, hinting that the road to rebuilding that trust might be long.

On Tuesday this week, as the Sanderson Farms Championship was about to begin, the spotlight turned to Malnati when discussions moved to LPGA sensation, Lexi Thompson, and her exceptional invitation to play at the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas. Scheduled to unfold from October 12th to 15th at TPC Summerlin, this keenly awaited event has an impressive purse of $8.4 million up for grabs.

Commenting on Thompson’s inclusion, Malnati confessed, “I was taken aback when I first learned about it. Yes, Lexi has showcased her mettle on the LPGA Tour numerous times. Her drive and athleticism will serve her well at TPC Summerlin. However,” he paused, choosing his words carefully, “I believe we shouldn’t have to rely on unexpected moves to generate buzz. I hope that this isn’t perceived as a mere ‘gimmick’ to gain traction, as tournaments should inherently be intriguing.”

Malnati elaborated on the evolving landscape of golf tournaments, “Change can be daunting. But I genuinely feel that this autumn season will be groundbreaking in the golfing realm. For tournaments uncertain about this transition, introducing players like Lexi can indeed be a smart strategy.”

The 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship winner, Thompson, has been a formidable force on the LPGA Tour. Malnati acknowledges this, saying, “Lexi’s participation will undeniably make headlines. Regardless of the outcome, her prowess as a professional golfer is unquestionable. If her inclusion serves the tournament’s purpose and benefits them, I am all for it.”

Malnati himself has a rich history with the Sanderson Farms Championship, having clinched the title in 2015 and coming close with a second-place finish in 2020. This year marks his ninth consecutive participation in the event. As the championship unfolds, Malnati’s insights and the performance of players like Thompson will undoubtedly remain central to discussions.

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